By Majonne Frost
Not everyone loves spreadsheets and calculations as much as I do. So how can you turn a mountain of sustainability data into engaging, useful information?
I spent the last couple of months checking and analyzing more than 1,500 key performance indicators (KPIs) for international home improvement retailer Kingfisher’s sustainability report. ‘This is personal.' After emerging, blinking, into the sunlight, I have come to the following conclusions:
Data gets really exciting when it reflects a big, or swift, improvement. A good example of this is H&M, which recently announced that an impressive 78 percent of its global energy use now comes from renewable sources, compared to just 27 percent in 2014.
A trailblazing example comes from Kingfisher, which reports that 96 percent of timber used in its products is now sustainably sourced. Or take Adidas: Since 2012, the sportswear company saved a staggering 100 million liters of water by using DryDye, a polyester fabric dying process that uses no water, 50 percent fewer chemicals and 50 percent less energy than the traditional fabric dying process.
You could sway your board with the financial benefits of your sustainability initiatives – in 2015/16 Kingfisher generated 2.9 billion pounds (around US$2.2 billion) or 28 percent of revenue from products that help its customers create more sustainable homes. But your millennial customers might need something a bit easier to digest. Heineken invited vocal artist Kevin 'Blaxtar' de Randamie to transform its report into a rap!
For example, Kingfisher is open about the difficulties it had in collecting data on timber used in construction. Another example comes from the transport sector, where a lot of work has been done to improve fleet efficiency but the next step will be to reduce emissions through use of alternative fuels. Unilever talks about some of the difficulties and solutions in finding alternative fuels for its road fleets on its website.
One of the Global Reporting Initiative’s top five recommendations on the future of sustainability data and innovation is the creation of a public global repository of sustainability data to enable transparency, comparison, benchmarking and better decision making.
Kingfisher has made a sound start in this by publishing a full data appendix. SABMiller is pushing the boundaries of transparency with its online country-by-country reporting tool. It’ll be interesting to see who follows suit.
Extreme weather events are growing ever more frequent, and closer to home – the recent flash flooding in the U.K. being just one example – and the North Pole is predicted to be free of ice either this year or next. Gathering, analyzing and presenting data in different formats is critical to helping us make the urgent progress we need.
Image credit: Benjamin Child via Unsplash
Majonne Frost is a Sustainability Analyst at Bioregional. Bioregional champions a better, more sustainable way to live. It works with partners to create places which enable people to live, work and do business within the natural limits of the planet. This is called One Planet Living. Follow on Twitter.